Safari showdown PART TWO: Aquila vs Okavango Delta

Read our previous Safari Showdown blog post to find out who was in the lead and read on to find out who gets chosen as the final winner.

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ROUND 5: Quality of sightings

Here’s the catch. While the majority of animals at Aquila are free roaming, one is aware of the highway in the distance. And the fencing. And the lions are in a completely separate camp. And the leopards and cheetahs are actually in a sanctuary separate from the main reserve. It is a much smaller area than the Delta (like comparing Luxembourg to Mother Russia) and therefore it is harder to get the “out there” feeling. For a pure safari vibe and sensing the wildness of it all, the Delta wins hands down.

Aquila 0 Delta 1

We’re at the halfway point, and the Delta holds a slight but significant lead of 3-2 as we Segway into…

ROUND 6: Landscape

Look, this trip was done in March. The Delta just had amazing rains. It’s a lush, wildly inhabited, kaleidoscope of colours with unbelievable sunsets, an artist’s wet dream.

Aquila is in the Karoo. It is generally dry, even more so after a pretty hot summer.

This round goes to Okavango. By a country mile.

Aquila 0 Delta 1

ROUND 7: USPs

For those of you who don’t know what that means, these are UNIQUE SELLING POINTS.

The Delta is a world famous biosphere, a wetland with incomparable diversity of wildlife, amply populated by hippos who stare at you menacingly while you take your optional canoe trip down the river ways. You are comforted by the squadron of dragon fly’s flanking you, and the calm reassurance of the chap steering your boat (Mkoro). Should you wish to do so, you can also go on daily walking safaris. Your room looks out over the river, where you are awoken daily by hippo love or the wild chatter of the various birds. And the lodge bakes great biscuits.

Aquila’s safari can be enjoyed via truck, horse or quad bike!

Aquila 0 Delta 1

ROUND 8: Extra considerations

Because we are comparing a three-night holistic safari experience with a nine-hour day excursion, it is important to throw some comparative options out there:

Okavango: In addition to the serenity of it all, the amazing service and the wild sense of Africa, you fly into the lodge by charter flight – which give you a bird’s eye view of the Delta from 1 500 feet. This is an extra treat that actually adds so much to the trip.

Aquila: On the way back from the safari (providing you don’t linger over lunch) you could easily fit in a wine tasting in the famous Cape Winelands area, or a trip up Table Mountain in the afternoon.

We’ll get to the pricing in a bit – but if you cashed in the extra two days that would merit the Botswana trip, you could spend those days in Cape Town visiting the Penguins, going to Cape Point, Robben Island, Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch Gardens, Great White Shark Cage Diving…

On a like for like basis, this might be a tie. Depends on your time constraints…

ROUND 9: Cost

A three-night, four-day safari at an affordable luxury Rest Camp in the Okavango Delta, including all flights, transfers, meals, local drinks, safari excursions and accommodation: R41,000 per person.

A one-day safari to Aquila, including breakfast, lunch and your three-hour game drive, as well as private transfers to the reserve with PG TOPS TRAVEL AND TOURS: R3,150 per person.

Now, this one is tricky. So let’s plug in all the activities on a private tours basis as stated in round 8 for the extra three days, as well as add in three nights in a five-star hotel in Cape Town. For the hell of it, let’s give you a two-course meal for lunch and a three-course meal in nice restaurant for dinner. Your three night/four-day Cape Town trip including Aquila, Great White Sharks, Table Mountain, Robben Island, Boulders Beach Penguins, Kirstenbosch Gardens and the Cape of Good Hope. R25,000 per person. Still a clear winner.

Aquila 1 Delta 0.

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ROUND 10: Is it Africa?

Aquila is a great introduction to the world of game viewing. Accessible, affordable, convenient, professional. But it isn’t the real thing. The Okavango Delta is well worth visiting to “feel the Africa”.

Aquila 0 Delta 1

The final result is a fair call in an uneven contest. One dayer Aquila put up a fair fight, but the superior offering of the Delta sees them walk as comfortable winners 6.5 – 3.5.

Me? I’m thinking of adding the Delta to our product range. We’ll still work with Aquila, it’s the only practical option for a lot of our short term stay guests and conference delegates; but maybe it’s worth considering a one week trip that does the best of Cape Town and Botswana…

Watch this space!

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